How to become an All Cash buyer

By now the legend of the all cash buyer has reached epic proportions. Many of my friends (and buyers) often assume when they lose a bidding war that it must have been “to an all cash” buyer, even if it’s not true, they just assume that it is. And who can blame them? Cash is king in NYC and it makes up  a shocking ~30- 40+% of sales. People see all cash buyers everywhere, and they assume they are all foreign “stashing money” in New York real estate. While I’m sure this is true for some, the reality is there are also many all cash buyers who are just like you and me. Average  New Yorkers who saved a lot. What?!! How can that be?! There are three common methods to achieve this.

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Q1 2015 Brooklyn Report

It’s finally here, the Brooklyn Q1 2015 Report, and while it’s been feverishly anticipated, there aren’t any real surprises, though it’s always good to get an overview of significant trends in the market. Key highlights include:

Swift sales. Properties in Brooklyn are averaging only 64 days on the market. Busy open houses and multiple offers – frequently all-cash – were the norm. The number of signed contracts was up 19% over Q1 2014.
Significantly higher prices. Strong demand and persistently low inventory continued to fuel price gains. The median price for an apartment is up 25% over the prior year. The average price per square foot rose 25% to $783.
More inventory, more choices.  For the third consecutive quarter, the available inventory in Brooklyn rose year-over-year thanks primarily to a 34% increase in the number of condominiums entering the Brooklyn market.

Compared to the Manhattan report a couple standout metrics include:

More supply, Manhattan is still ravenous at 3.8 months of supply whereas Brooklyn is just peckish at 5.3 months. 6 months of supply is considered getting close to equilibrium. Brooklyn, buyers while still under supplied overall have more choice.
Median Price appreciation remains strong, Brooklyn appreciated 25% since this time last year, $550k from $442, while Manhattan shows only a mild uptick of 6%, $955k from $899k.
Inventory is growing overall, while in Manhattan inventory remains skewed towards expensive, $3.5M+

Closed Houses

This year cannot be discussed without acknowledging how severe this winter has been.  For a long time, I believed that seasonality did not impact this market, the inventory was so low and the buyers so desperate that seasonality had become a thing of the past — that was summer. This winter, I ate every one of my words, not even the hardiest of buyers would venture out in the winter white that shrouded the city.

Open houses for properties that would otherwise be flooded sat empty. The truth was only agents would consider even going out in the weather that we’ve had to put up with. And now spring is officially here and while we’ve had a couple glimmering spring days, we are still very much in the throes of winter’s icy  grip. The temperatures have been rising, but so have the winds and the rains, for every couple of spring like days, there have been an equal amount of wintery  like days. It’s as if we are cursed to never shed our winter coats.

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Q1 2015 Manhattan Report

Corcoran has just released their Q1 2015 Manhattan Report, and it makes for some interesting reading. While some threads are the same as they have been in the last quarters – low inventory, high prices etc,..  there are some standout surprises — such as 12,000+ units are expected to launch in 2015 – 2016, this is a substantial uptick in units brought to the market last year, or even the year before that! It is also I’m sure welcomed news to the beleaguered buyers out there who haven’t been able to catch a break in this market. Other highlights:

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New DEV Spotlight: the Bergen House

If you’ve been looking for a place to buy, by now you’ve probably heard of people talking about the “inventory crunch”. Inventory remains restrictively tight and buyers after losing their 5+ “best and highest”, have become despondent, depressed or detached — no longer caring  to buy and making their peace as a renter. So it’s always a stampede inducing moment to see affordable and attractive units come online in this market.

954 Bergen is targeted at exactly this kind of market. Frustrated buyers who want  a great location, affordable price and the flexibility of condo ownership.  When I went to one of their early open houses, the experience was similar to the immersive theater production of Sleep No More, hundreds of people practically unsupervised running around in a building, trying to listen to the few actors sales people they had on hand. While I left early, I was impressed with a few of the units and absolutely in love with the neighborhood.

I know we’ve covered this area of Crown Heights already, but I just can’t get enough of it. Every time I walk through this neighborhood there’s something new to discover. And to be perfectly honest, I quite like the aesthetic of it, large warehouses, and garages peppered with residential outposts combine to make a perfectly quintessential new york neighborhood. And while some cafes take laid back and cramped too far (read Crosby Coffee), others have embraced the huge and lots of choices, (the Bergen) elevating the eating experience to a whole new world of delicious.

And while some of the units at the Bergen House were a bit on the small side, given where it’s located, the tons of sun in some of these units, and easy access to transportation, I could easily see myself buying something here if I were younger, and had the wherewithal to save.


How to Sell Your Home Fast! Design Trends to Avoid

People often say that “you never get a second chance at a first impression”, and if that’s true with people it’s even MORE true with real estate. Buyers make up their mind practically the minute they step their foot in the door on if they’re going to love it, hate it or just like it. More often then not, if they’ve done their research they usually “like” it. Liking it however, is not enough to buy it.

It starts with the general look and feel of the place, and while everyone’s preferences are subjective the following trends are unanimously panned by buyers.

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Neighborhood Spotlight: Crown Heights

When I was living in Downtown Brooklyn, I had a completely different vision of Crown Heights.  Admittedly, it wasn’t a very clear image, more a blurry collage of an up and coming neighborhood just below Atlantic  and south of the always-in-the-news Bed-Stuy. Having recently become a neighborhood transplant, what I saw overwhelmed me. The pace of development is shocking. In the midst of garages, storage units, and car washers, were these incredibly charming nooks reminiscent of 90s Williamsburg. There were the requisite just-quirky-enough bars – the Way Station, Washington Commons, and hipster / neighborly coffee shops like Sit and Wonder which runs a book exchange, and Crosby Coffee. But what really impressed me were the large ambitious spaces like 1000 Dean St, Five Miles Gallery and Bergn’n.  And while Berg’n gets all the press it isn’t the only restaurant in the neighborhood worth trying. Barboncino makes a mean pizza, and Gen’s sukiyaki is very memorable.  It’s clear that people had discovered this and are moving in in droves,  new developments are sprouting up in just about every workable piece of land.

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New Development

New Developments are taking center stage this year. We’ve all heard about the developments happening in Manhattan, 57th St. has been restyled as “Billionaire’s Row”. One57 makes headlines on a seemingly daily basis and 520 Park Avenue is already one of the most discussed new developments. But while Manhattan is scrambling to take “most expensive condo ever” crown, Brooklyn is developing some of its own glossy new condos. See the select projects below, some of which have recently launched sales, and some of which are expected to launch this quarter or next. Enjoy!

Brooklyn Year in Review

Corcoran’s Year in Review for Brooklyn has just been released, and the numbers are just as staggering as we expected it to be, highlights include:

  • Average Condo and co-op price grew 12% higher than a year ago.
  • Average price per square foot grew 9%
  • Overall median price increased 3%

New development was quickly absorbed despite escalating prices. More new development inventory is expected to come online this year ~ 1,300, (325 per quarter) but that is still not expected to meet demand.  As a result of  the lack of new development inventory, the resale condo market has experienced a 4% uptick in sales compared to last year (2013).

The new development that is scheduled to come online in the next couple quarters is quite eye catching, and will no doubt be snatched up quickly, I selected a few to highlight.


Suburbs and the City

There comes a point in your life (read children) when New Yorkers make the decision to either stay NYers or move to the suburbs. And when you reach that decision point everyone will have an opinion, your friends who are in the same anxious am-I-actually-considering-this state, to been-there-done-that-and-know-what’s-best, and of course family. No doubt the suburbs has its allure. Who can deny the SPACE? After losing yet another bidding war for a 2BD walk-up half a mile from the subway, the value and ease of the suburbs gets even more attractive.

Many suburban residents will tell you that all of the culture and convenience of the city is actually (and unbelievably) available in the suburbs, along with stars, crickets, and a backyard. And they aren’t completely wrong, the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville NY hosts just as enviable an array of independent films as the Angelika, Madison NJ’s town library is massive and hosts indie films, they also host operas, exhibits and sold out Shakespeare plays all year long. One of my ex-Brooklynite neighbors described the suburbs as “having everything the city does but closer and with less stress!” Indeed, the suburbs is not the cultural dearth many city dwellers imagine it to be, so why would anyone stay in the city?

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All Brooklyn all the time.